When a loved one gets into trouble with the law, it can be tempting to help them run, hide, or destroy evidence. It is important to help your loved one, but helping them hide from the law will only endanger you and them. You would become an accessory to a felony in Claremore, Oklahoma, which can mean jail time.
Being an Accessory is Against Oklahoma Law
In Oklahoma, it is illegal to conceal or aid an offender. Doing so makes you an “accessory” under the law.
Under Oklahoma criminal law, you can be either a principal to a crime or an accessory. A principal to a crime is a person concerned in the commission of a crime, who aids the commission of the crime or commits the crime directly. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 172
An accessory is someone who after the commission of a felony, aids or conceals the offender knowing that the offender committed a felony, with the intent to help the offender avoid or escape arrest, trial, or conviction. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 173
If you help a friend out by hiding them after they have committed a misdemeanor, you cannot be convicted of being an accessory. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 174
Knowing that the offender committed the crime is a key element in this crime. The prosecutor must prove that you concealed or aided the offender knowing the crime that was committed.
In addition, the aid must be given with the intent that the offender avoid or escape from the law. OUJI-CR 2-2
If any of these elements are missing or if the prosecutor cannot prove them, there can be no conviction.
Here is an example. Angie is a 17-year-old with a drug habit. For a long time, Angie just smoked a little marijuana here and there.
One day, her mom walks into Angie’s room as Angie shoots up some heroin. Suddenly, the police are at the door. Angie asks her mom to help her flush the drugs down the toilet.
Angie’s mom complies, because she doesn’t want the police to find the drugs in Angie’s possession. However, Angie’s mom is now an accessory to a felony.
Penalties are Harsh
The penalty is directly related to the felony involved.
If the underlying felony is one that is punishable by a prison term of four years or more, an accessory can be sentenced for up to half the maximum penalty allowed for that felony.
However, if the felony is punishable by less than four years of incarceration, an accessory could spend up to a year in jail. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 175.
If the underlying felony is punishable only by a fine, you may be fined up to half that amount if you are convicted.
However, if the felony is subject to both a fine and a jail sentence, an accessory could end up paying up to half of the fine amount and serving half he longest jail time that can be imposed for that felony.
Being convicted as an accessory to murder carries a particularly harsh punishment.
In the case of first-degree murder, the accessory may serve between 5 and 45 years in prison.
If the underlying offense is second-degree murder, the accessory may serve between 5 and 25 years in prison.
If you are being investigated or charged, it is crucial that you hire an experienced Claremore criminal defense attorney to help you fight for your freedom. There is help out there for you.
Free Consultation: Claremore Criminal Defense Attorney
There are defenses available to you if you are being charged as an accessory. Small facts can help a lot in building a strong defense. Make sure that you work with your attorney to preserve your freedom.
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